Austin was hospitalized in the critical care unit for complications from prostate cancer.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin canceled his trip to Brussels to meet with NATO ministers and work on military aid to Ukraine after being hospitalized with complications from prostate cancer, according to US officials.
Austin, 70, was taken to Walter Reed Military Medical Center on Sunday with “symptoms suggestive of an emergent kidney issue”, the Pentagon said.
Austin is scheduled to travel to Brussels on Tuesday to attend a regular meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a group of about 50 countries, to coordinate military assistance for Kyiv. That meeting is about to take place, two US defense officials told the Associated Press news agency on condition of anonymity.
After the Ukraine meeting, Austin will attend a regular meeting of NATO defense ministers, also in Brussels. It was not immediately clear whether Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, whom Austin has replaced in her duties, will attend the meeting.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Monday that President Joe Biden has no concerns about whether Austin will be able to serve after his most recent hospitalization.
The latest hospitalization was made public shortly after he was taken to a military medical center by his security detail.
Austin failed to disclose a prostate cancer operation in December and subsequent hospitalization in January to deal with its complications. This month, the cabinet secretary apologized for failing to tell Biden and senior staff about his cancer diagnosis, adding that the health scare was a “gut punch” that shook him.
He is scheduled to testify before Congress on February 29 about the secrecy surrounding his first hospitalization.
His trip to Brussels comes at a critical time in Europe.
A narrowly divided US Senate moved closer to passing a $95.3bn aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan on Sunday, showing undiminished divisions despite growing opposition from Republican hardliner and former US President Donald Trump on continuing aid to Ukraine.
The legislation includes $61bn for Ukraine, which Kyiv sees as crucial as it moves towards the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion as the front lines in eastern and southern Ukraine remain largely static for many months.
Trump, seeking to return to power in November’s presidential election, raised a storm of criticism from the White House and top Western officials over the weekend for suggesting he would not defend NATO allies. which failed to spend enough on defense and even encouragement. Russia to attack them.